Friday, University Park CC, Florida…. The scheduling confusion continues for me as a strive to be “the smartest kid in the dumb row” and win the consol singles.
Because I am a round behind others, the website last night showed that I had the quarter finals at 9 am and then would play the semi’s at 1:30. So, “just for the heck of it,” I rechecked this morning and saw the same two matches scheduled; but the FINALS then at 3 p.m.
John Lundquist (from MI) and I started at 9:20 and finished at 11:30 a.m. He is an incredible retriever, getting almost everything I could throw at him, and has a nice topspin forehand (reminiscent of my Monday match loss).
He broke me in my second service game; so I was serving at 1-3 and decided I just needed to be more patient AND more aggressive… I had to play steady side-to-side tennis and expect the ball to come back. But then when there was a high floater or attackable groundstroke, to go for the shot. (Thanks – Larry Turville).
Executing that plan well, I was able to run five consecutive games and take the first set 6-3.
I started serving the second set (telling myself NOT to let down); but lost a 40-15 lead to be broken. He held serve, coming back from 15-40; and then broke me again for a 3-0, two break lead!
While contemplating a third set, I told myself to just “invest in the ground game” and run him side to side to try to tire him out for the third set. But what do you know, I was able to break, hold, break, and hold again to recover back to him serving 3-4.
John held and I held; so he served at 4-5, taking a quick 40-love lead. Staying focused and staying aggressive, I came back to win that game, set, match 6-3, 6-4… in two hours and ten minutes.
When I reported in my scores, they told me the semi’s opponent had an emergency and had defaulted; so the Consol finals was pegged for 3 p.m.
That match was vs. Don Clark (New Mexico), who had won his semi’s that morning 6-0, 6-0 and (according to Tom McCune online research) had won the National Clay Courts Consol singles.
Another great retriever with a big topspin forehand (I am getting tired of playing these guys!). But, his backhand was attackable; so that was my game plan.
I went up two breaks in the first set and was serving at 5-2. Played an OK game; but he hit some great shots and broke me. He held and again I served for the first set at 5-4. This time, I played a CRAPPY game, with two bad unforced errors and let him back in.
We worked our way to a tight tie breaker, which I survived 7 points to five.
In the middle of the second set, I lost my legs and he went up two breaks, 5-2. But, I was able to break and hold; for him to have to serve it out at 5-4.
On his first set point, I hit a ‘fearless forehand’ to his backhand that clipped the baseline. He called it “Out”; but looked over at a friend of mine (Freddie Q), who was standing on the line, and asked him to confirm; only to be told it was good. So, he conceded the point. But I was unable to turn that good fortune into a break and he held for a second set 6-4 victory.
The third set was a War of Attrition. After more than four hours of singles that day, I was exhausted and went down 0-2.
But then, three things happened about the same time…
1) Don’s friend and practice partner, #1 seeded Jimmy Parker came to watch,
2) Don pulled a groin muscle,
3) And I got a second wind.
I was able to break back and hold; and we worked our way to his serving at 4-5, match point against. I had been really attacking his second serve; so he put in a soft first one, which I promptly dumped weakly into the net.
Mad at myself for playing “fearfull tennis” at that point, I didn’t make the same mistake at deuce. Attacked and gained another match point. On the second match point, just shy of 6 p.m. and three hours, I attacked and hit to his backhand, which HE dumped into the net.
7-6, 4-6, 6-4 … and The Smartest Kid in the Dumb Row.
After Friday’s five sets and five hours (!) of hard-fought tournament singles, DeDe had to drive the two hours back to Naples that night… while I curled up in a ball in the passenger seat.
For other results, including Howie Ames/Steve Shreiner upset of Larry Turville, please click HERE.